SEARCA's highest decision-making body evaluates the Center’s work in Southeast Asia

  • By Nathan P. Felix
  • 27 October 2022, Thursday

The 70th SEARCA Governing Board (GB) together with Dr. Margarita Consolacion C. Ballesteros (seated, fifth from right), Director of the International Cooperation Office of the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd), and the Guest of Honor; Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio (seated, fourth from left), SEARCA Director; Assoc Prof. Joselito G. Florendo (seated, rightmost), SEARCA Deputy Director for Administration and Chair of the GB Secretariat; and Dr. Ethel Agnes P. Valenzuela (seated, fourth from right), SEAMEO Secretariat (SEAMES) Director; and the SEARCA Management Committee.The 70th SEARCA Governing Board (GB) together with Dr. Margarita Consolacion C. Ballesteros (seated, fifth from right), Director of the International Cooperation Office of the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd), and the Guest of Honor; Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio (seated, fourth from left), SEARCA Director; Assoc Prof. Joselito G. Florendo (seated, rightmost), SEARCA Deputy Director for Administration and Chair of the GB Secretariat; and Dr. Ethel Agnes P. Valenzuela (seated, fourth from right), SEAMEO Secretariat (SEAMES) Director; and the SEARCA Management Committee.

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) convened the 70th SEARCA Governing Board Meeting (GBM) on 3 October 2022.

It was the second time the Philippines hosted an in-person SEARCA GBM represented by Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., Chancellor, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), since Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, took the helm in 2019.

As the highest policymaking body of SEARCA, the Governing Board (GB), composed of representatives from the 11 Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) member countries, conducts an annual evaluation and review of the Center's programs, financial resources, and operations. The hosting of the meeting may be rotated among the member countries.

Attendees of the 70th GBM rise for the SEAMEO Entrance of Colors.Attendees of the 70th GBM rise for the SEAMEO Entrance of Colors.

Since the onset of the pandemic, it was the first time the GB conducted its face-to-face meeting while following the minimum health protocols. The 70th GBM was attended by representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Dr. Camacho succeeded Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chew Fook Tim of the National University of Singapore as Chair of the SEARCA GB.

Dr. Somphong Chanthavong, Acting Dean, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Savannakhet University, and Country Representative of Lao PDR, joins the GBM virtually.Dr. Somphong Chanthavong, Acting Dean, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Savannakhet University, and Country Representative of Lao PDR, joins the GBM virtually.

Also present were Dr. Ethel Agnes P. Valenzuela, SEAMEO Secretariat Director, and Dr. Gregorio as GB ex-officio members; as well as Assoc. Prof. Joselito G. Florendo, SEARCA Deputy Director for Administration who also serves as the SEARCA GB Secretariat, along with members of the SEARCA Management Committee and support staff.

Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, emphasizes SEARCA’s 11th Five-Year Plan of ATTAIN has begun to take root and flourish.Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, emphasizes SEARCA’s 11th Five-Year Plan of ATTAIN has begun to take root and flourish.

“For two consecutive years, the COVID-19 pandemic forced SEARCA and the rest of the world to find new ways of working, living, conducting business meetings, and performing its mandate. Now, on our 70th Governing Board Meeting, we are pleased to open our doors again and welcome you all here at the SEARCA Headquarters in the Special Science and Nature City of the Philippines, in Los Baños, Laguna,” said Dr. Gregorio.

Dr. Gregorio also emphasized SEARCA’s new strategic agenda of ATTAIN have begun to take root and flourish. “This year, SEARCA has broken new ground in education, research, and innovation of the most important delivery of services in the Southeast Asian region and communities whom we serve,” he said.

Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., Chancellor, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and Chair of the 70th SEARCA GBM, reinforces the need for partnerships and linkages in elevating agricultural and rural development.Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., Chancellor, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and Chair of the 70th SEARCA GBM, reinforces the need for partnerships and linkages in elevating agricultural and rural development.

“SEARCA and UPLB for decades have had a strong partnership and have been united with a common goal to continuously elevate agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia. And today, as we gather to discuss matters pertaining to SEARCA’s goals, current and future programs, status, and plans, let us all exert our best efforts,” said Dr. Camacho.

Dr. Ballesteros thanked the Center for supporting DepEd’s programs and initiatives.Dr. Ballesteros thanked the Center for supporting DepEd’s programs and initiatives.

Dr. Margarita Consolacion C. Ballesteros, Director of the International Cooperation Office of the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd) joined the opening program of the meeting representing the Education Secretary and concurrent SEAMEO Council (SEAMEC) Vice President, Ms. Sara Zimmerman Duterte-Carpio, as the Guest of Honor. She thanked SEARCA for being an avid supporter of DepEd’s programs and activities and recognized the Center’s contribution to the Department’s bid to transform the Philippine education system into a more robust, agile, and responsive sector.

Education Secretary and concurrent SEAMEO Council (SEAMEC) Vice President, Ms. Sara Zimmerman Duterte-Carpio congratulates SEARCA and emphasizes the need to work together in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).Education Secretary and concurrent SEAMEO Council (SEAMEC) Vice President, Ms. Sara Zimmerman Duterte-Carpio congratulates SEARCA and emphasizes the need to work together in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In her pre-recorded message, Secretary Duterte-Carpio congratulated SEARCA and urged all country representatives in the region to strengthen partnerships in achieving the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and work towards a sustainable, food secure, and climate resilience future for the Philippines.

“May this gathering of policymakers help create strategies to ensure our interventions and innovations reach resource-poor farmers most vulnerable to shocks and disruptions. Once again, let me express my gratitude for the great contribution of the Center to the Philippines,” Secretary Duterte-Carpio concluded.

SEARCA’s Achievement Report for FY 2021/2022.SEARCA’s Achievement Report for FY 2021/2022.

During the meeting, the GB lauded SEARCA's accomplishments in FY2021/2022 and expressed continued support in the Center's programs and activities in the next fiscal year including the crafting of the business continuity plan and the data privacy initiatives and risk registry. The GB also provided directions for the Center to ensure that it effectively responds to the persistent and emerging concerns brought by the ongoing pandemic related to the agricultural and rural development of the region.

Some of SEARCA’s regional and local initiatives.Some of SEARCA’s regional and local initiatives.

Dr. Gregorio reiterated, “SEARCA and its partners and stakeholders have risen to the challenge of innovative change. In facing these challenges, the commitment of our staff has helped the Center brace through the storm to meet its mission.”

Dr. Valenzuela challenges SEARCA to bring more people and planet agenda to the Southeast Asian region.Dr. Valenzuela challenges SEARCA to bring more people and planet agenda to the Southeast Asian region.

Dr. Valenzuela said she admired SEARCA for maximizing linkages and partnerships around the world. “SEARCA is always on the move and will be at the forefront among Centers to address the emerging concerns of our science agenda. I congratulate SEARCA for being a transformative leader in promoting inclusive and sustainable education and I challenge SEARCA to bring more people and planet agenda in the Southeast Asian region,” said the SEAMES Director.

Dr. Ballesteros holds a wooden SEARCA Tree while Dr. Camacho and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tim each holds a rice portrait of themselves respectively handed over by Dr. Gregorio and Assoc. Prof. Florendo.Dr. Ballesteros holds a wooden SEARCA Tree while Dr. Camacho and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tim each holds a rice portrait of themselves respectively handed over by Dr. Gregorio and Assoc. Prof. Florendo.

Dr. Gregorio holds a mini replica of SEARCA’s Growth Monument explaining to Dr. Valenzuela its symbolism, while Dr. Camacho and Assoc. Prof. Florendo look on.Dr. Gregorio holds a mini replica of SEARCA’s Growth Monument explaining to Dr. Valenzuela its symbolism, while Dr. Camacho and Assoc. Prof. Florendo look on.

The GB approved the general directions and planned activities of SEARCA’s core programs and support units and departments as well as the proposals related to organizational development. Dr. Gregorio thanked the members of the GB for approving all of the Center’s plans and proposals. He also expressed his gratitude to UPLB as SEARCA’s host institution since its inception in 1966.

The GB members during the 70th SEARCA GBM.The GB members during the 70th SEARCA GBM.

The GB members also had their election of the new GB Vice Chair. Garnering a unanimous decision, Dr. Suhaimi bin Haji Abdul Wahab, IBTE Satellite Principal, Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE), and Country Representative of Brunei Darussalam, was elected as the Vice Chair of the 71st GBM to be held in Cambodia next year.

Dr. Camacho (fourth from right) welcomes the SEARCA GB at the UPLB Office of the Chancellor. (photo grabbed from the UPLB Facebook Page)Dr. Camacho (fourth from right) welcomes the SEARCA GB at the UPLB Office of the Chancellor. (photo grabbed from the UPLB Facebook Page)

Dr. Jennifer Marie Amparo, Director, UPLB Business Affairs Office (BAO), explains the various innovations and products of the UPLB Technology and One-Stop Shop (THOSS) to the SEARCA GB. (photo grabbed from the UPLB Facebook Page)Dr. Jennifer Marie Amparo, Director, UPLB Business Affairs Office (BAO), explains the various innovations and products of the UPLB Technology and One-Stop Shop (THOSS) to the SEARCA GB. (photo grabbed from the UPLB Facebook Page)

The GB Chair hosted the GB members to a fancy dinner and a tour around the UPLB campus immediately the following day. Accompanied by Dr. Gregorio, Assoc. Prof. Florendo, Ms. Sharon A. Malaiba, Head, Partnerships Unit, and Ms. Katerina M. Vargas, Senior Associate, Events and Visitors, they went to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), UPLB Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB); and the UPLB Technology and One-Stop Shop (THOSS), a marketplace of various innovations and products inside the University part of the UPLB Accelerating Growth through One Research and Extension in Action (AGORA) agenda.